BOWIE GOLDEN YEARS

1970  •  1971  •  1972  •  1973  •  1974  •  1975  •  1976  •  1977  •  1978  •  1979  •  1980

 THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD  •  HUNKY DORY  •  ZIGGY STARDUST
ALADDIN SANE  •  PIN UPS  •  DIAMOND DOGS  •  YOUNG AMERICANS
LOW  •  HEROES  •  LODGER  •  SCARY MONSTERS
THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH  •   THE ELEPHANT MAN
FEATURES
  •  PRESS ARCHIVE

BOWIEGOLDENYEARS is currently being expanded and redesigned
page links in gold are live
the other pages will go live when completed

January 1978

Bowie Now

promotional album released in US
RCA DJL1-2696

Side one
V-2 Schneider 3:10
Always Crashing In The Same Car 3:26
Sons Of The Silent Age 3:15
Breaking Glass 1:42
Neuköln 4:34

Side two
Speed Of Life 2:45
Joe The Lion 3:05
What In The World 2:20
Blackout 3:50
Weeping Wall 3:25
The Secret Life Of Arabia 3:46

Monday January 2

Angela Bowie returned to Switzerland with her friend, Heartbreakers soundman Keeth Paul, with whom she had stayed in New York. They arrived at Clos des Mésanges to find that Zowie and Marion Skene had gone.

Despondent and in need of cash, she called David Lewin, a journalist friend who contacted Sunday Mirror. The editor called her and agreed to send some cash over with a reporter and a photographer.

Friday January 6

 

Beauty And The Beast 3:29 • Sense Of Doubt 3:57
single released
UK, Germany, France, Belgium and Netherlands in picture sleeves (PB-1190)
Also released in US (PB-11190)
Chart peak UK 39

Beauty And The Beast (extended mix) 5:18 • Fame 4:12
Promotional 12-inch single released in US
RCA JD-11204

Mid January

Just A Gigolo film production
Director: David Hemmings
Producer: Rolf Thiele

Hemmings, Kim Novak, Maria Schell and Bowie on the Just A Gigolo set
Photograph by © Alain Dejean/Sygma/Corbis

Shooting of Bowie's second feature film began, continuing until mid February at various locations including the Café Wien on the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin.

Bowie spent the evenings working on his art, taking Polaroids of them to put in a photo album.

Chris Hodenfield's report in Rolling Stone:

Outside an old-time transvestite bar, the Lützower Lampe, in a dressing room trailer, David Bowie sat and looked at pictures. His bicycle was in the trailer, too. A cassette played Vivaldi's Four Seasons. In his photo album there were snapshots of his recent paintings and woodcuts. Most were stark, howling messages, reminiscent of Twenties expressionism. A room with a table. There was a startling woodcut of an Argentine dancer. "Have I shown them?" he said, recoiling. "Never have, but I think I might be getting the confidence up again. That's a self-portrait," he said, turning over a snake-faced headshot. "That's Iggy, without his professor's glasses. That's his 'I just want to be taken seriously' look." Iggy, with parted hair, had a sad, up-from-under stare. [147][Hodenfield, Chris. Bad Boys In Berlin (Rolling Stone 301, 4 October 1979)]

 

February 1978

In between shooting Just A Gigolo scenes in the Café Wien, Bowie spoke with Michael Watts (Melody Maker):

Bowie: I'm finding it enthralling to be really getting into a person's flesh this time around. I really feel very much at home – with this character, being led and shown how to do it.

Watts: Tell me how you got involved in the movie about Egon Schiele.

Bowie: It was originally suggested to me that I should play the part by Clive Donner, the guy who did The Caretaker and Mulberry Bush. He sent me the original script and I jumped at the idea of it, 'cause Schiele was somebody I was aware of. Wally is just a working title. It will go through the time from as he was leaving Klimt as a pupil and setting himself up as a painter, through his prison sentence and to the end of his relationship with his girlfriend, Wally. Charlotte Rampling is on the boards to play her at the moment. [308][Watts, Michael. Confession Of An Elitist (Melody Maker, 18 February 1978)

On the weekends, he travelled to Cologne where Brian Eno was producing Devo's debut album at Conrad Plank's studio.

Mark Mothersbaugh, Devo (2009): David Bowie still wanted to be involved and showed up every day on the weekends and hung out with us, and then bickered with Eno. [092][Collins, Dan. Devo: Gonna Be A Man From The Moon (LA Record, 4 November 2009)]

Jerry Casale, Devo (1978): We always had a desire to be produced by either Brian or David, or possibly both, and they both were, like, equal choices, and as its turned out were going to eventually have both of them. Out of anyone in the business they were obviously the closest to the devolved end of the scale. The sounds they achieved, the way they approached the art and, in the case of David, of course, his understanding of media and total image. There weren't too many choices. [057][Birch, Ian. (Melody Maker, 25 February 1978)]

Wednesday February 15

Eno called up Bowie in the morning from Cologne. He had been to Frank Zappa's concert the night before and was impressed by Zappa's guitarist Adrian Belew. Remembering that Bowie was looking for a lead guitarist for the upcoming tour, he told Bowie to check out the concert that night at the Deutschland Halle in Berlin.

Adrian Belew (2007): The following night David comes to the show, ostensibly to see me play. There is a break in the show where I normally leave the stage while Frank plays an extended guitar solo. As I'm leaving, I glance over to the monitor board. I'm shocked to see David Bowie and Iggy Pop! I walk over, shaking David's hand. I say, "I've always loved your music".

"Great", he says, "how'd you like to join my band?"

"Well, I'm playing with this guy right now..." I stammer, pointing to Frank.

"Yes, I know, but your tour ends in two weeks and mine begins two weeks later."

We agreed to meet back at the hotel after the show. David and Coco tried to rendezvous with me without letting Frank know I was being wooed away from his band. We stepped into the hotel elevator when no one was around. Coco said, "We have a car out front. We'll meet you there in ten minutes."

David wanted to take me to one of his favourite restaurants to discuss my future. So his driver set off with the three of us in the back. We pulled up to a nice looking restaurant and walked in. At the table right in front of us sat Frank and some of the band! David said, "Really enjoyed the show." Frank shot back, "Fuck you, Captain Tom." No matter what David tried, Frank kept saying, "Fuck you, Captain Tom." So we left the restaurant. Outside David said, "That went down rather well, didn't it?" [398][elephant-blog.blogspot.com – Anecdote #646 part 1 (Adrian Belew, 22 May 2007)]

Bowie continued planning the world tour and contacted Natasha Kornilof, who had designed several of his outfits over the years, to prepare some ideas. She flew to Berlin where took her to see Bowie on location.

After filming finished for the day, they returned to Bowie's hotel, and spent an hour scribbling costume design ideas on the backs of envelopes, which she took back to London to work on.

Natasha Kornilof (1984): We had torn bits out of magazines and we did small drawings and we had lots of ideas and wanted trousers that were kind of big and we also wanted to combine them with Hawaiian shirts that they used to wear in the Forties with strange prints on them? We had also seen a funny mess jacket in another photograph and I went off and combined the large trousers with the mess jacket. I made him a series of tracksuits in velour. I made a snakeskin jacket to go over the tracksuits. I made loads of things – corduroy suits, sailor suits and hats. [009][Currie, David. The Starzone Interviews (Omnibus Press, 1985)]

Photo session with Anthony Lord Snowdon at his house in Kensington for a British Vogue feature (published in September)

Monday February 20

Just A Gigolo shooting wrapped and Bowie returned to Britain to announce the 1978 World Tour at Dorchester Hotel. During the stopover, Natasha Kornilof sent him designs for his stage costumes.

Natasha Kornilof (1986): I didn't see him but he tried it on and sent it back with messages like “more of this – one in red as well.” So I just got on with until eventually I was to fly to Dallas where they were rehearsing. [Juby, Kerry. In Other Words: David Bowie (Omnibus Press, 1986)]

Tuesday February 21

Tour plans were announced in the press with Stacy Heydon still slated as lead guitarist, pending commitment from Adrian Belew, who played his last Zappa show on March 1.

Bowie flew to Kenya for another holiday before the tour.

 

March 1978

Monday March 13 – Saturday March 25

Dallas
Isolar 2 World Tour rehearsals

With Bowie still away, his tour band began rehearsals in a large windowless warehouse on a freeway 15 miles outside of Dallas.

Carlos Alomar, resuming his role as bandleader, took the band through the set list, handing out chord charts to the musicians, four of which were new to the material.

Adrian Belew, fresh from his tour with Frank Zappa, had signed up as Stacy Heydon's replacement. Bowie's first choice for lead guitarist had been Robert Fripp, but he had baulked at the prospect of a five-month tour. He told Bowie, "I don't think you have the room to give me.”

Eno also declined:

I gave it some serious consideration. I don't like doing gigs very much, but I think there are a few people I'd like to do them with, and he's one of them. But the trouble was he was talking about a long tour … it would mean that I wouldn't be able to work again till the summer.” [051][Baker, Danny and Needs, Kris. An Interview With Brian Eno (ZigZag, January 1978)]

Eno recommended Roger Powell, from Todd Rundgren's Utopia. Powell was also technically adept having recently developed one of the first polyphonic synthesisers.

Bowie had known violinist Simon House since the early days in London, when he played in High Tide with Tony Hill. House later played with Hawkwind until Bowie called him to join the tour.

Sean Mayes (1999): David had chosen us for our individual abilities and didn't really interfere with us much. So the music found its own level and became very much the bands music played in our own way. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Adrian Belew (1999): He gave me full rein to be his guitarist and to add a lot of colours and sounds; to play solos and to be involved in the shape and form of the music itself. [004][Buckley, David. Strange Fascination (Virgin, 2005)]

Carlos Alomar (1999): That was a wonderful band. You wouldn't normally find a band that would have a violin player, a lead guitar player, a synth player and a piano player – these are all soloist instruments. [004][Buckley, David. Strange Fascination (Virgin, 2005)]

“Bowie is uncanny in his ability to pick musicians,” Variety later commented.

Wednesday March 15

London to Dallas

Following his return from Kenya, Bowie spent the day in London, then boarded a Concorde at Heathrow to join the band in Dallas.

He arrived in the afternoon and called in at the rehearsal studio, travel weary, but excited by the prospect of playing live again with a new band.

Thursday March 16

Tour rehearsals, Dallas

With only two weeks to prepare, there was much to be done with four musicians learning 30-40 songs. Early on, Bowie announced, “Let's do the whole Ziggy Stardust album – that'll surprise them!” They learned all of the songs, and settled on six for the setlist.

Natasha Kornilof arrived on the Easter weekend with two suitcases of stage outfits for Bowie to try.

Friday March 17

Dallas

Kornilof and Bowie decided on the final selections, including a snakeskin jacket, a double-breasted mess jacket they had seen in a magazine cutting combined with large trousers. On the night, Bowie would select one or two different combinations from a large wardrobe.

Natasha Kornilof (1984): His favourite combination was the white trousers with the snakeskin jacket. The cut of the trousers was based on Jacobean breeches but I made them in white drill and down to the ankles. [009][Currie, David. The Starzone Interviews (Omnibus Press, 1985)]

Saturday March 25

Melody Maker announced that Devo were confirmed to sign a contract with Warner Bros and would tour UK in June, and were “likely to support Bowie on several British dates”.

Saturday March 25

The Showco trucks left for San Diego to set up for the first concert and Bowie and the band spent the evening at bowling and playing pool. Looking as ordinary as he did, Bowie spent the evening untroubled by the unsuspecting Texans, a far cry from the Houston local who pulled a gun on him in 1971.

Monday March 27

Dallas to San Diego

Bowie and the band flew to San Diego where they had two days for rest and last minute preparations for the opening show of the tour.

Natasha Kornilof spent the time finishing off the sewing of the outfits on a machine delivered to Tony Mascia's room at the hotel.

Bowie told the Chicago Tribune that the shows would be “low profile, nothing very dramatic visually. No characters. I've finished with characters. Now it's just me.”

Isolar 2 – 1978 World Tour

David Bowie (vocals, keyboards)
Carlos Alomar (rhythm guitar, musical director)
Adrian Belew (lead guitar)
Dennis Davis (drums, percussion)
Simon House (electric violin)
Sean Mayes (piano, string ensemble)
George Murray (bass)
Roger Powell (keyboards, synthesisers)
(Dennis Garcia on November 11 and 14)

Tour Manager: Eric Barrett
Lighting conceived and designed by David Bowie and Eric Barrett
Sound and lights: Showco
Program design: Bowie
Produced in association with Winterland Productions
Costume design: Natasha Kornilof
Stage Manager: Rob Joyce
Road crew: Jan Michael Alejandro, Vern 'Moose' Constan, Leroy Kerr, Edd Kolakowski

Songs performed:

Warszawa / Heroes / What In The World / Be My Wife / The Jean Genie / Blackout / Sense Of Doubt / Speed Of Life / Breaking Glass / Beauty And The Beast / Fame / Five Years / Soul Love / Star / Hang On To Yourself / Ziggy Stardust / Suffragette City / Rock 'N' Roll Suicide / Art Decade / Station To Station / Stay / TVC 15 / Rebel Rebel / Alabama Song / Sound And Vision

Wednesday March 29

Sports Arena, San Diego

San Diego Photograph by George Rose/Getty Images

Mayes (1999): You open a tour generally at a place not too big and famous, so we had about three or four gigs before the first biggy, which was Los Angeles, but nonetheless it was big – it was 15,000 people in a big stadium. We were all very keyed up for it. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

After pre-show nerves all round, the first show of the tour went without a hitch and the ecstatic capacity crowd of 15,000 brought them back for two encores. Fans followed them back to the hotel where the band had joined the hotel band onstage in the bar.

Thursday March 30

Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Phoenix

Friday March 31

Still in Phoenix, the band spent their day off lounging around the hotel pool, then dinner at a Japanese restaurant.

 

April 1978

Sunday April 2

Convention Center, Fresno

Fresno Photograph by Larry Hulst

Monday April 3
Tuesday April 4

Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles

Wednesday April 5

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, San Francisco

Oakland Photograph by Ed Perlstein

Thursday April 6

Inglewood Forum, Los Angeles

After the show, Bowie held a party at Ma Maison restaurant on Melrose Avenue. Bowie provided limos for all the guests, including Nic Roeg, Si Litvinoff, Alan Bates, Jacqueline Bisset, Tom Waits, Toni Basil, Bette Midler and Mark Rydell who was directing Midler in The Rose.

Toni Basil and Bette Midler arrive Photograph by Ron Galella

Tom Waits, Bowie and Bette Midler at Ma Maison Photographer unknown

Friday April 7

In the afternoon Bowie and the band attended a party at tour manager Eric Barrett's house in the canyon. Later in the evening they all crowded around a television to watch the coverage of the Forum show.

Saturday April 8

Los Angeles to Houston

Sunday April 9

The Summit, Houston

Houston Photographer unknown

Monday April 10

Convention Center, Dallas

The concert was filmed by RCA for broadcast as David Bowie On Stage (US)

Songs included:
What in the World Blackout Sense of Doubt Speed of Life Hang On to Yourself Ziggy Stardust
Four of those were broadcast on Old Grey Whistle Test on February 27, 1979 (UK)

What in the World restored by Nacho's Videos

Blackout restored by Nacho's Videos

Sense of Doubt restored by Nacho's Videos

Speed of Life restored by Nacho's Videos

Hang On to Yourself restored by Nacho's Videos

Ziggy Stardust restored by Mister Sussex

Tuesday April 11

Louisiana State University Assembly Center, Baton Rouge

Wednesday April 12

Nashville – Adrian Belew's hometown

The cancellation of the Atlanta concert at the Omni gave everyone a night off before the next concert. Belew took everyone to Fanny's, the club where Frank Zappa had discovered him.

Thursday April 13

Municipal Auditorium, Nashville

Friday April 14

Mid-South Coliseum, Memphis

Saturday April 15

Municipal Auditorium, Kansas City

Monday April 17
Tuesday April 18

Arie Crown Theatre, Chicago

Chicago Photograph © Paul Natkin

On the second night, the orchestra pit was taken out and Bowie was able to work the crowd. As the house lights went down, he called for them to be turned back up a little “so I can see you all out there!”

John Milward, Rolling Stone: David Bowie's career has been predicated on abrupt stylistic changes, and the most surprising aspect of his new live show is the ease with which he melds the disparate strands into a tightly woven whole. During the two-hour show, Bowie places equal emphasis on the adventuresome new music he's made with Brian Eno and the souped-up and blown dry hard rock that made him a star.

The new Ziggy is a dramatic crooner – Bowie turns everything into a prop, from his Gitanes to his mike-over-the-shoulder delivery of Suffragette City – with a different story. Marching in time with the manic “I want to touch you” phrase that concludes Breaking Glass, Bowie leaped from the stage, touched somebody in the first row, and was back on stage before most of the audience knew what had happened. The time lapse was just a second but if you caught Bowie's face, you saw his features screaming with insecurity.

Then during a stunning interpretation of Moon Of Alabama, Bowie's face again became the focal point, changing with each verse and making Bowie appear to be a man of a thousand visages. That we can't tell which face is real is what makes Bowie's show so intriguing. [209][Milward, John. David Bowie: Man Of Many Phases (Rolling Stone 267, 15 June 1978)]

Thursday April 20

John Rockwell interviewed Bowie in his suite at Pontchartrain Hotel.

Cobo Arena, Detroit

Mayes (1999): Rough cities usually have great audiences – Glasgow, Hamburg, Detroit – they either love you or they hate you and really let you know it. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Accordingly security was ready for any trouble from the 12,000-strong capacity crowd. The more overzealous bouncers started beating up the fans that came up to the front in the second half.

Distracted, Bowie fluffed the lyrics of Ziggy Stardust. He called the band to stop and yelled at the guard, “You! No! That is not necessary! Too many fucking people have been fucking hurt in places like this. Don't do it! We're not playing or singing no more, man, unless it's enjoyable.”

Eric Barrett jumped down to the front to hustle out the offenders and Bowie restarted the song then faltered. Alomar started up the Suffragette City riff and the band fell in behind.

Mayes (1999): David used his adrenalin to spit out the lines… Hey man! Ah, leave me alone, you know! Hey man! The crowd cheered and stomped along and the mood was broken. [022] [Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Friday April 21

Cobo Arena, Detroit

Midnight Special broadcast in US (NBC)

Interviewed by Flo and Eddie. Dressed in a kimono, Bowie talked about his trip to Kenya with Zowie, Aladdin Sane and the revival of Ziggy Stardust for the 1978 tour.

Saturday April 22

Richfield Coliseum, Cleveland

The entourage arrived in Cleveland and checked into Swingo's Inn, a hotel favoured by musicians. As they arrived, Count Basie, who was there for a show, stopped to greet Dennis Davis and Tony Mascia, who used to chauffeur him in New York. In the evening Bowie called a meeting with the band, Eric Barrett and Pat Gibbons to discuss recording the live album the following week in Philadelphia.

Monday April 24

Mecca Arena, Milwaukee

Wednesday April 26

Civic Arena, Pittsburgh

Pete Bishop, Pittsburgh Press: He proved what he has hidden under excessive theatrics all these years: that he's one of the very best rock'n'rollers around. “If I play music, its going to be straight and I'll take the consequences,” Bowie told an interviewer recently. And play it straight, backed by a fine band, is just what he did. And the shockingly small but enthusiastic crowd (5671) loved it. [060][Bishop, Pete. Bowie Straight Just Plain Good (Pittsburgh Press, 27 April 1978)]

Thursday April 27

Capital Center, Landover

Tom Zito, Washington Post: One must admire Bowie for attempting to broaden the musical parameters of rock concerts, although in the process he may have managed to cut his audience in half.

Friday April 28

Spectrum Arena, Philadelphia (recorded for Stage album)

Tony Visconti flew Concorde from London to New York, arriving in Philadelphia to set up the equipment to record both of the Spectrum dates.

Visconti (2002): RCA loaned us their excellent mobile studio, which we parked outside each venue. I was the engineer, assisted by two senior RCA engineers. Each show was miked exactly the same way and no one was permitted to change the settings on the console from show to show. So consistent was the sound (and the tempo of each song) that we were able to use the intro and outro of Station To Station from Boston and the bulk from Rhode Island. [422][tonyvisconti.com – Stage (2002)]

Visconti (2006): I had to make sure that the band was close miked for maximum separation between their sounds to ensure more control during mixing. I wanted to audience to sound big and real and I wanted the natural reverb in the concert halls to enhance the sound of the record. I used four microphones for the audience, not the more common two that are usually placed left and right in the house. Quadraphonic recording was still viable in the late nineteen seventies and I wanted to cover the possibility; years later my Surround Sound mix recreated the spatial feeling of being in the audience.

Saturday April 29

Spectrum Arena, Philadelphia (recorded for Stage album)

The band had a complete rehearsal in the afternoon. The tapes from the previous night's performance showed they had been playing too fast, so Alomar reestablished the studio tempos.

 

May 1978

Monday May 1

Toronto

Canadian Gold from RCA president Ed Preston • Photo by John Rowlands

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto

Photograph by Patrick Harbron

At the hotel bar after the show Bowie caught up with Lindsay Kemp who was in town performing Salome and Flowers and had been to Bowie's concert that night with Jack Birkett.

Tuesday May 2

Civic Center, Ottawa

Wednesday May 3

Forum, Montreal

Bowie declined a request to sing the French version of Heroes, as he couldn't remember the French lyrics.

Thursday May 4

A day off in Boston before the show in Providence.

Friday May 5

Civic Center, Providence (recorded for Stage album)

Saturday May 6

Boston Garden, Boston (recorded for Stage album)

The Boston Rock Thrower regularly attended concerts armed with rocks. This time, one narrowly missed Dennis Davis, another smashed Roger Powell's keyboard.

Sunday May 7

New York

The tour party settled in at the Westbury Hotel, uptown on Madison Avenue for a night off before the two Madison Square Garden concerts.

Carlos Alomar celebrated his 27th birthday at Hurrah disco at 32 West 62nd Street. Bowie turned up at the party with Bianca Jagger, but disappeared soon afterwards. explained later, “He was rather shy about coming here tonight as several of his ex-girlfriends were here. But you should have seen their faces when he walked in.”

WPLJ-FM radio interview

Monday May 8

Madison Square Garden, New York

The atmosphere backstage at the Garden was thick with the pungent smells of animals – the circus was in town. Barnum and Bailey were at the venue for a month, but Pat Gibbons had bought two nights from them for Bowie's engagement. Naturally the animals remained there, just down the passage from Bowie's dressing rooms.

Belew was nervous at the prospect of playing to the rarefied New York crowd of 20,000, specifically those whose music he was playing: “Bob Fripp will be out there.. Earl Slick might be coming.”

Mayes was more unnerved by the presence of Bianca Jagger watching from the wings with , Andy Warhol and Yoko Ono.

Adrian Belew (2007): I remember scanning the front row and seeing Dustin Hoffman looking back at me. Off to one side of the stage sat Andy Warhol with his ever faithful entourage trying their best to look nonchalant. Somewhere in the audience were the Talking Heads, Mick Jagger, Bianca, etc. It was a rubberneck fest. [397][elephant-blog.blogspot.com – Anecdote # 373 (Adrian Belew, 30 April 2007)]

The New York Times critic John Rockwell described the concert as “one of the highlights of the year.”

Visconti's plan to record the New York dates was scrapped as it involved a costly recording fee.

Tuesday May 9

Madison Square Garden, New York

Brian Eno visited backstage and showed Roger Powell how he had created the synthesiser sounds on Low and Heroes.

After the show, everyone headed to CBGB to celebrate the end of the US tour, then Studio 54 where they met up with members of Blondie.

Wednesday May 10

Bowie flew to Paris to post-sync some dialogue on Just A Gigolo, for a screening for investors at Cannes Film Festival.

Tony Visconti returned to London to mix the live tapes for the album Stage. RCA wanted the album out as soon as possible to promote the tour and thwart bootleggers who had cashed in on Bowie's 1976 tour with bootlegs.

Thursday May 11

In the afternoon the touring party flew to Frankfurt.

Friday May 12

David Bowie Narrates
Prokofiev's Peter And The Wolf

album released*
RCA Red Seal ARL1-2743
pressed on translucent green vinyl

Side one
Peter And The Wolf, Op. 67
27:08

Side two
Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra, Op. 34
17:10

Produced by Jay David Saks
Engineered by Paul Goodman

Recorded with Eugene Ormandy and The Philadelphia Orchestra
at RCA Studio B in New York, December 1977
Art Director: JJ Stelmach
Art: Jeffrey Schrier
Cover photo: Tom Kelley

Reissued on CD:
• RCA Red Seal 1984
• RCA Gold Seal 1992
• RCA Victor 2004

*In the Los Angeles Times on April 2, a record store advertised the record as "available and on sale Friday, April 7th. However, availability may be subject to change by the manufacturer."

 

TV Eye: 1977 Live

album released in UK
RCA AFL1-2796

TV Eye was culled from soundboard tapes from The Idiot and Lust For Life shows and cleaned up by Edu Meyer at Hansa Tonstudio. This album fulfilled Iggy's RCA contract and he received a full album advance.

Bowie played piano and sang backing vocals on four of the tracks: TV Eye, Funtime, Dirt (March 21 and 22 in Cleveland) and I Wanna Be Your Dog (March 28 in Chicago).

Saturday May 13

Festhalle, Frankfurt for rehearsals

Sunday May 14

Festhalle, Frankfurt

Monday May 15

Congress Centrum, Hamburg

The audience of 3,000 was appreciative remained seated throughout the show. A solitary fan ventured to the front at the end of Ziggy Stardust and Bowie leaned down to shake his hand.

Tuesday May 16

Arena Rock interview
Hilton Hotel, Cologne
Interviewer, producer: Alan Yentob
Broadcast: May 29 (BBC2)

Alan Yentob: Well, it's been a long time…

Bowie: The last time you were with me [Cracked Actor) was in Los Angeles – one of the worst periods in my life, I think. I got into a lot of emotional and spiritual trouble there and so I decided to split and discover new ways of relating to the music business per se. I wasn't sure exactly what I was in it for any more.

Alan Yentob: Was there a clash between the materialism, the need to be a rock star – successful?

Bowie: Yes, very much so. And as I really didn't want to be one myself, I was living more and more in the style of one of my characters who wanted terrific success – cause they're all messiah figures … I really felt the material aspect was something that had to be done in Los Angeles because it's driven into you, it's the food of Los Angeles – Hollywood, rather, not Los Angeles. And so I just packed up everything one day and I moved back to Europe … It was finding out what used to interest me when I was at art school and mime companies and mixed media productions when I was young. Thats the first thing I did when I got back to Europe, was to stop thinking about music and performing for a bit and think about something that I hadn't done for a long time, which was paint. And that helped me get back into music again. And also from a different perspective about music and what I wanted to write. And it was a form of expressionistic realism (laughs) – if there's such a thing!

I'm not quite sure where to go now. The East beckons me. I'm a bit scared of moving over there really, because I fall in love so much with the lifestyle that I get very Zen about it and won't write anything anymore. And I want to keep contributing. [347][Arena Rock (BBC2, 29 May 1978)]

Deutschlandhalle, West Berlin

As in Hamburg, the audience remained seated throughout the show and again a solitary fan from the front row got up to dance during Station To Station. A person of military appearance, also in the front row, motioned to the bouncers to subdue him. Bowie ordered them to stop but he was ignored, so he stopped the band and repeated “No! Nein! Stop!” They released the boy and the show resumed.

Thursday May 18

Gruga-Halle, Essen

Friday May 19

Kölner Sporthalle, Köln

Saturday May 20

Olympiahalle, Munich

Tony Visconti arrived with the finished mixes of Stage, which he played to Bowie and some of the band in a studio hired for the evening.

Tony Visconti (2002): They loved it and jumped out of their seats when they heard the descending notes on Fame (we were playing it back very, very loud). David loved it just as I'd mixed it and didn't want to change a single thing. I suggested that maybe the ambient instrumentals could be edited shorter, but he insisted they remain on the album in their entirety. [422][tonyvisconti.com – Stage (2002)]

Monday May 22

Stadthalle, Vienna

Tuesday May 23

31st International Film Festival, Cannes

The band and crew flew to Paris, while Bowie attended the Cannes International Film Festival to promote Just A Gigolo. David Hemmings had organised a preview screening of a French dubbed version for potential film distributors. Hemmings and the film's investors figured that Bowie's presence might help and also organised a Gigolo themed party. With crowds milling everywhere, Bowie ducked through the kitchen and made his entrance.

Photograph by Ralph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images

Wednesday May 24

Pavillon de Paris, Paris

Bowie partied all night with film people, then Tony Mascia drove him back to Paris. He joined the band for a 4pm soundcheck, returning to the Plaza Athénée Hotel to rest up before the first Paris concert.

After the show, Bowie broke his cocaine abstinence and stayed up for the next 24 hours.

Thursday May 25

Pavillon de Paris, Paris

Photograph by J.L. Atlan

After the show Bowie and the band partied at The Palace club.

Friday May 26

Palais des Sports de Gerland, Lyon

The touring party boarded the plane at Orly Airport for the short flight to Lyon. There was a lengthy delay on the tarmac – it was announced that they were running off fuel while they changed an engine. Bowie groaned, "Oh God, that means the pilot's drunk and they're feeding him black coffee."

Saturday May 27

Palais des Sports, Marseilles
(replacement of cancelled concert at Parc Chaneau)

The show went well with the band in high spirits and an enthusiastic crowd, until they finished playing Blackout. As if on cue, the speakers sputtered and died, along with the lights.

Sean Mayes (1986): Carlos was very quick-witted and shouted for us all to get off the stage très vite. There was no real division between the audience and the backstage area and it was felt that we should leave the building. [009][Currie, David. The Starzone Interviews (Omnibus Press, 1985)]

Eric Barrett hustled them quickly backstage into the limos and back to their rooms at the hotel. After the roadies restored power, he brought them back to finish the show.

Sean Mayes (1986): It was like giving a show to the troops just behind the front line. It was a hell of a show because everyone had so much nervous energy. [009][Currie, David. The Starzone Interviews (Omnibus Press, 1985)]

Monday May 29

Arena Rock broadcast in UK (BBC2)

Tuesday May 30

Musikladen Extra television studio performance

Produced: Radio Bremen
Director: Michael Leckebusch
Broadcast August 4 (ZDF)

Sense Of Doubt / Beauty And The Beast / Heroes / Stay / The Jean Genie / TVC 15 / Alabama Song / Rebel Rebel (encore)/ What In The World [encore - not broadcast]

Wednesday May 31

Falkoner Teatret, Copenhagen

 

June 1978

Thursday June 1

Falkoner Teatret, Copenhagen

Friday June 2

Kungliga Tennishallen, Stockholm

Sunday June 4

Scandinavium, Gothenburg

Monday June 5

Ekeberg Idrettshall, Oslo

Wednesday June 7
Thursday June 8
Friday June 9

Sportpaleis Ahoy, Rotterdam

After the Friday show Bowie, and Sean Mayes went to Bonapartes, a mixed gay club where they were able to socialise and dance without fans milling around.

Sunday June 11

Vorst Nationaal, Brussels

Cracked Actor rebroadcast in UK (BBC2)

Monday June 12

Vorst Nationaal, Brussels

Papped on arrival …

… and departure with Schwab

Tuesday June 13

Iggy Pop at the Music Machine Photograph by Philip Grey

Iggy Pop's TV Eye Tour (with a new band that included Scott Asheton and Fred Smith) crossed paths with Bowie's when they played two nights at the Music Machine in Camden Town. Eno attended the first, playing pool throughout the show. Bowie and Sean Mayes came to the second night, which was reportedly better than the first. They hung out backstage with Iggy then went clubbing at Monkberrys (a cabaret/disco in Mayfair) and Tramps.

Wednesday June 14

City Hall, Newcastle

Photograph by Denis O'Regan

Newcastle was Bowie's first UK show in two years and rabid fans were laying siege to The Gosforth Park Hotel and the venue. The limos circled the venue nine times before the stage door was cleared for Bowie and band to enter. The energy of the audience in the comparatively small hall made for a show Sean Mayes described as “amazing”, with two “glorious encores”.

Thursday June 15

City Hall, Newcastle

Trevor Bolder visited backstage as did Iggy Pop, who joined the tour for a week. Pat Gibbons told the press that the Egon Schiele film had been postponed for at least a year.

Friday June 16

City Hall, Newcastle

Interviewed for Northern Lights television (Tyne Tees)

Saturday June 17

Newcastle to Glasgow

The coach trip to Glasgow included tourist stops along the way – a country pub near the Scottish border, and Edinburgh Castle.

Monday June 19

The Apollo, Glasgow

Interviewed for Reporting Scotland television (BBC Scotland)

Tuesday June 20

The Apollo, Glasgow

Thursday June 22

The Apollo, Glasgow

Interviewed by Jonathan Mantle for Vogue (September issue)

Mantle: Whether you're protected, or you protect yourself deliberately now, you keep yourself cut off. Is there a danger of cutting yourself off from things you might not want to miss?

Bowie: I keep myself cut off from hotels and things, out of deference to the English countryside. At the moment I'm staying way outside of Glasgow, so most of my time has been spent walking on the hills and fishing in the lakes, and running every day. I've been with a friend, Jimmy Osterberg – Iggy Pop. We're from very different backgrounds – that's why we get on really well. I've spent this tour in a very civilised fashion. I've been able to live as I do when I'm not on the road. I get up at seven or eight in the morning, and walk.

Mantle: How long will you stay in Berlin?

Bowie: I think I've finished there now. I've been in Japan and Thailand recently and I may go back to Japan, somewhere round Tokyo. [193][Mantle, Jonathan. David Bowie (Vogue, September 1978)]

Friday June 23

Bowie travelled to Birmingham by rail with Sean Mayes, Rob Joyce and Leroy Kerr. Travelling first class, Bowie was occasionally accosted by fans who were following the tour. He indulged them with autographs, but had to fend off a persistent waiter in the dining car.

Saturday June 24
Sunday June 25
Monday June 26

Bingley Hall, Stafford

After the Sunday concert, a party was held for the road crew at a club in Birmingham, featuring a disco and a strip show. Dennis Davis got up onstage with a mic and livened up the show with a mock fashion commentary.

Thursday June 29
Friday June 30

Earl's Court Arena, London (filmed for Stage)

Photograph by Pete Still

On the second night, David Hemmings and a film crew set up to shoot the concert for a feature length tour film Stage. Tony Visconti supervised recording.

In the afternoon the band played a technical rehearsal for Hemmings and film crew to set the recording levels and camera angles. A giant crane arm was used to lift one of the camera operators above the stage and audience.

Interviewed for London Weekend Show

Janet Street-Porter and a film crew recorded a special with the focus on Bowie's relationship with his fans, some of whom she interviewed outside the venue, as well as journalist Michael Watts and David Hemmings.

Michael Watts: I think he attracts the punks because they like the idea of somebody who's in a constant state of change and also doesn't represent the hippy period. When Bowie first came out in the Seventies, he was such a relief from all the earnest, rather boring music that was happening and the kind of po-faced attitude that existed in the pop music scene.

David Hemmings: I think it's much more exciting for an audience to have that kind of association with somebody that they really can't touch or understand completely than it is with somebody who's a lot more open and immediately communicative. [362][London Weekend Show (ITV, 9 July 1978)]

Shortly before show time, Bowie emerged from his trailer in the cavernous backstage area to give a short interview with Janet Street-Porter.

With Hemmings inside about to shoot the concert, Bowie was evasive about Just A Gigolo. “I don't know, I haven't seen it. I don't usually see rushes when I'm filming so I really don't have any real idea of what the film's like.” Of his future plans he ventured, “Possibly a little tour next year, very simple one. But definitely a big tour in two years time – 1980.” [362][London Weekend Show (ITV, 9 July 1978)]

 

July 1978

Saturday July 1

Earl's Court Arena, London (filmed for Stage)

David Hemmings was back with his film crew, shooting more for the documentary. Backstage one of the cameras turned to film Bowie's arrival with Bianca Jagger, until Pat Gibbons blocked it.

Midway through the first set, Bowie turned to ask the band if they remembered how to play Sound And Vision. “Here's something we haven't done before,” he told the 20,000 strong audience as the band kicked into the song. “This is all last night stuff, folks!"

Mayes (1999): The gig was sensational, the final high of the tour. The surge to the front started almost immediately so we played to a seething crowd of excitement. The first half was magnificent, the second just wild. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Bianca Jagger and David Hemmings joined Bowie's party at Tramps nightclub to celebrate the end of the European tour.

London Weekend Show 30-minute special, featuring interviews and excerpts of Star, Heroes and Hang On To Yourself from Earl's Court, broadcast July 9 (ITV)
Be My Wife and Sound And Vision released on Rarest One Bowie CD (Golden Years 1995)
Whole concert released as Blackout (Parlophone 2018)

Stage film

Bowie and Hemmings envisaged the film as a 90-minute feature incorporating Bowie's life on and off the stage, which they hoped would be in cinemas late autumn, pending a distribution deal.

In February 1979, when Nicky Horne interviewed Bowie on Capital Radio, the film was still a going concern, intended as a companion to Stage.

Bowie (1979): We had great ambitions in the beginning to do some kind of surreal thing but what we've ended up with is a very straightforward film of the concert as it stands and I hope that it sort of matches the album. There's a little bit more to do with the editing then it's ready. I don't know when it's going to come out, exactly. [341][Your Mother Wouldn't Like It (Nicky Horne, Capital Radio, 13 February 1979)]

Hemmings (2000): We shot it with about 10 cameras over two nights. We put it all together in Majorca, where I had a house, and David came out and stayed with us. But at the end of it he didn't like the cut, or he didn't like the fact that we had to cut in between numbers in order to get all the coverage. So he never released it.

Bowie (2000): I simply didn't like the way it had been shot. Now, of course, it looks pretty good and I would suspect that it would make it out some time in the future. [105][Dalton, Stephen and Hughes, Rob. Trans-Europe Excess (Uncut, April 2001)]

Sunday July 2

Alabama Song recording session
Good Earth Studios, 59 Dean Street, Soho, London
Producer: Tony Visconti

During his Berlin period, Bowie had become a fan of Brecht and Weill (though nothing came of the mooted Threepenny Opera film with Fassbinder) and their Alabama Song, popularised by Kurt Weill's wife Lotte Lenya and later by The Doors. It had become a highlight of the set so Bowie decided to take the band to Visconti's studio to record it.

Sean Mayes (1999): David wanted Dennis [Davis] to play very freely against the rhythm to give an unstable, insane atmosphere to the track. When we tried to do this, it proved hilariously difficult so we finally laid the backing down without drums then Dennis overdubbed his demolishing attack when his efforts wouldn't disturb the beat. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Sunday July 9

London Weekend Show broadcast in UK (ITV)

 

August 1978

Bowie returned to the relative anonymity of Berlin and Paris, where he had a crew cut and grew a short beard. He packed up his things at Hauptstrasse 155 and moved to Switzerland.

Saturday August 12

Bowie and Iggy Pop attend the opening night of new Berlin punk disco SO36, arriving with friends at 5am.

September 1978

Jonathan Mantle's Bowie interview with portraits by Lord Snowdon published in UK Vogue. • read article

Lodger recording sessions
Mountain Studios, Montreux
Producer: Tony Visconti

After a two-month break the tour band reconvened in Switzerland, where Bowie was now living, to record what became Lodger.

Mountain Studios was located on the shore of Lake Geneva, part of the casino complex that had been rebuilt since the 1971 fire Deep Purple immortalised in Smoke On The Water. The band was staying a short walk away at the Hotel Excelsior.

They set up in the smaller of the two studios with in-house engineers David Richards and Bowie's neighbour in Vevey, Eugene Chaplin.

The album's working title was Planned Accidents, continuing the experimental spontaneous approach of its predecessors. With little in the way of specific song ideas, Bowie and Eno instead directed the musicians using the Oblique Strategies methodology that Eno developed with Peter Schmidt.

With the backing tracks complete, Alomar, Davis and Murray returned to New York. Mayes, House and Belew then alternated in the studio recording overdubs alone upstairs with Bowie running back and forth with suggestions.

After two weeks the musicians were sent home, to regroup in a month for the last leg of the tour. Bowie and Visconti made plans to finish the album – still untitled and without lyrics – in the new year.

Monday September 25

Photo session, Paris
Photographer: Bruce Weber
Published L'Uomo Vogue December/January

Friday September 29

Stage

live album released in UK

RCA PL 02913
and US CPL2 2913
Chart peak UK 5 US 44

Side one
Hang On To Yourself 3:26
Ziggy Stardust 3:32
Five Years 3:58
Soul Love 2:55
Star 2:31

Side two
Station To Station 8:55
Fame (Bowie-Lennon-Alomar) 4:06
TVC 15 4:37

Side three
Warszawa (Bowie-Eno) 6:56
Speed Of Life 2:46
Art Decade 3:10
Sense Of Doubt 3:11
Breaking Glass (Bowie-Davis-Murray) 3:28

Side four
Heroes (Bowie-Eno) 6:20
What In The World 4:22
Blackout 4:02
Beauty And The Beast 5:08

David Bowie (vocals, keyboards)
Carlos Alomar (rhythm guitar)
George Murray (bass)
Dennis Davis (drums, percussion)
Adrian Belew (lead guitar)
Simon House (violin)
Sean Mayes (piano, string ensemble)
Roger Powell (synthesiser, keyboards)

Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti

Recorded April/May in Boston, Philadelphia and Providence

RCA had asked Tony Visconti to hurry with the mix to ensure the album was out in time to promote the tour. By the end of May it was ready and in late July advertisements for pre-orders appeared with Bowie's self-portrait in lieu of a cover.

Then RCA put back the release date, citing problems with the artwork – Bowie had changed his mind about the cover and wanted it changed to a live photograph by a reporter Gilles Riberolles that he saw in French rock magazine Best.

The release was further delayed by a contractual dispute between RCA and Bowie. He wanted to fulfil his contract and argued that the album counted as two LPs. RCA countered it was worth one as it was taken from a single performance, despite the fact that it wasn't.

 

An Evening With David Bowie

Promotional album released in US
RCA DJL1-3016

Side one
Open 0:33
Segment 1 7:29
Ziggy Stardust 3:32
Segment 2 2:26
Station To Station 8:47

Side two
Segment 3 2:53
Beauty And The Beast 5:02
Segment 3 (continued) 6:22
Fame 4:05
Segment 4 5:18

Produced and edited by Sonny Fox. Special thanks to Lee Abrams, Joshua Blardo, Ron Ross, Pat Gibbons and David Bowie. Cover photograph by David James from The Man Who Fell To Earth.

Released to promote Stage, the exclusive Superstars Radio Network interview was recorded earlier in the year at Bowie's New York apartment where he spoke about his life, career, and influences. Intercut with live music tracks taken from Stage.

Star 2:31 / What in the World 4:22 / Breaking Glass 3:28

promo 12-inch single released in US
RCA DJL1-3255

Live versions from Stage, pressed on white vinyl
Cover photograph by Tom Kelley from the 1975 session

 

October 1978

Bowie's office issued a press release to quash rumours that he was considering leaving RCA for another label: “In answer to the numerous rumours concerning my recording activities, I wish to clear the air and set the record straight. At present and for the foreseeable future I am under contract to RCA Records and at no time have I engaged in any negotiations to alter that status. My relationship with RCA has been a long and rewarding one and any rumours that I am signing with another label are completely false and erroneous."

The world premiere of Just A Gigolo in Germany was postponed for a month due to problems translating from English to German. Hemmings original cut of the film was longer and dramatically different to the version eventually released in 1979.

Saturday October 14

Stage peaks at number 4 in the UK chart.

 

November 1978

 

Saturday November 4

Bowie arrived in Sydney for his first tour of Australia after an almost incident-free flight from Hong Kong. Despite having no prior notice of Bowie's arrival, reporters were waiting at the airport.

Bowie (1978): There were three or four press people behind me in the line saying “Have you seen David Bowie yet?” I said, “You can't miss him, he's just over there, he's got a green raincoat on and bright red hair” and they went off and hassled the poor guy for a few minutes. [350][Countdown (ABC, 12 November 1978)]

The band arrived at 4pm on a separate flight from Los Angeles and joined Bowie at the Sebel Townhouse, a small European styled hotel in Elizabeth Bay, near Kings Cross. At the time, the Sebel was recognised as Australia's premier celebrity hotel.

Monday November 6

Rehearsals, Hordern Pavilion, Sydney

The band worked from late afternoon until early morning on a stage fully constructed to ensure all technical aspects ran smoothly.

Over the next two days Bowie gave interviews to the press in his room at the Sebel. Paul Dainty publicist Margaret St George allocated thirty minutes to each group of five reporters.

Anthony O'Grady, RAM: He absolutely refused to do an all-in general press conference. Apparently he'd heard some of the classic stories – like the time Fleetwood Mac were asked five times within the hour just why they had a penguin as a logo. We ascend to the ninth floor or thereabouts… Barbara De Witt invites us into the actual interview room, seats everyone around the sofa where Bowie will actually sit and explains the rules. Half an hour of questions, and a five-minute warning before end of play. Barbara disappears to fetch The Man. [235][OGrady, Anthony. On The Conveyor Belt With The Tall, Bronzed, Fragmented One (RAM, 1 December 1978)]

John Hanrahan, The Sun: I was expecting a washed-out little man with a midnight sun tan who would nod shyly and retire to the furthest seat in the room. he's slender, wiry, but Bowie's colouring is closer to midday at Bondi. He bounces on to the lounge and sinks, one leg tucked under the other, pulls out a packet of cigarettes and lights up, tossing the packet onto the lounge. “How are ya, then?” The question sounds like it's come from an old mate. [136][Hanrahan, John. Bowie… Seriously (The Sun, 23 November 1978)]

Bowie explained his tanned healthy appearance came from his recent trip to Eastern Africa, where he had spent three days with a Masai tribe.

“I'm a born traveller. I'm obsessed by it, can't stop. When I travel I take a Jeep and do it alone. When I go to Kenya, for instance, I'm on the road all the time and I make the most of any environment that I'm in.”

“While I'm here I'll take one flight out to Ayers Rock because I promised Brian Eno I would – that's his famous symbol in life, Ayers Rock. To him thats music – long barren passages with one jewel dropped in the middle. Thats how he writes.” [235][OGrady, Anthony. On The Conveyor Belt With The Tall, Bronzed, Fragmented One (RAM, 1 December 1978)]

The Australian press focused mainly on Bowie's apparent normality – Gavin Green described his hair as “unfashionably short and conservatively groomed” – and lack of artifice.

“Ziggy has gone, so has the Thin White Duke and all the other characters. Now I'm just David Jones, the real me. I don't write character songs any more… so I suppose I am about as natural as I can be on stage in front of 20,000 people, which is a pretty unnatural thing to do. I do regret that Australian audiences never had a chance to see the characters. [134][Green, Gavin. Well See The Real Bowie (Sun Herald, 12 November 1978)]

Thursday November 9

In the evening Bowie and a small group went out to some clubs including the Manzil Room in Kings Cross.

Friday November 10

Rehearsals at Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Interviewed by Ian Meldrum
Broadcast November 12 on Countdown (ABC)

 

In the evening Bowie and entourage flew to Adelaide for his first concert in Australia.

Bowie arrives in Adelaide flanked by Tony Mascia and Stuart George

Saturday November 11

Adelaide Oval

The Australian tour was the first time since 1973 that Bowie had a support act – The Angels. In 1978 their album Face To Face and the exposure from the Bowie tour made them one of Australia's most popular bands.

John Brewster, The Angels (2012): We had done the Meatloaf tour earlier in the year… then the Bowie tour took our album to triple platinum. I was told that he chose us on the strength of our music – he liked the sound of the band, and the songs.

Bowie and band arrived at the oval a couple of hours before the show.

John Brewster, The Angels (2012): We did our soundcheck in the late afternoon and there was a lone figure sitting out on the grass about 60 metres away in a pair of slacks and a v-neck jumper and fairly short hair. I looked at him and I thought, 'I wonder if that's David Bowie' and then I thought 'Nah, don't be silly, that can't be David Bowie'. But it was, and when we finished the soundcheck he was just on his own. As we started walking off the stage, this guy got up and walked around the back of the stage. We were walking down the steps and he was at the bottom and he introduced himself to each and every one of us. And thats when he said, “I really like your music” and “Would you like to have dinner with me and the band tonight?” It was really good to be made to feel so much a part of their tour.

Doc Neeson, The Angels (2007): Bowie insisted we be called 'special guests' rather than the support act. He said we could have his lights and did we want to borrow his guitars? He showed how to treat a support band. [319][Wilmoth, Peter. Fallen Angel (The Age, 3 June 2007)]

Sunday November 12

Adelaide – Perth

Countdown interview broadcast in Australia (ABC)

The eight-minute segment included the Ian Meldrum interview, clips of the band rehearsing Alabama Song in Sydney, Fame on Soul Train, "Heroes" promo video and Ziggy Stardust from the David Bowie On Stage film.

Tuesday November 14

Entertainment Centre, Perth

Perth was not originally on the tour itinerary but Bowie ended up playing two concerts at the Entertainment Centre, a relatively new circular indoor venue with a capacity of 8200.

Wednesday November 15

Entertainment Centre, Perth

The second Perth show was only announced that morning and half full as a result, but those who went said it was the better of the two nights.

Thursday November 16

Bowie and the band spent their day off in Perth cruising along the Swan River in a boat Dainty hired for them.

Sean Mayes (1986): On that tour, David was very relaxed and looking very healthy. We were all out on this boat in the sun, all in our swimsuits and things, and David was pulling at his middle and just about managing to pinch a bit of flesh between his fingers saying, “Dear me, they'll be calling me plump next.” [Juby, Kerry. In Other Words: David Bowie (Omnibus Press, 1986)]

In West Berlin most of the Just A Gigolo cast attended the premiere at the Gloria Palast, where Dietrich's film Blue Angel had opened to rave reviews in 1930. Gigolo however, was so poorly received that David Hemmings cancelled further screenings before the German public could see it.

He returned to London to work on a new edit, cutting it from 147 minutes to 105 minutes for its UK opening the following year.

Friday November 17

Bowie and entourage arrived in Melbourne, checking in to the Hilton Hotel, opposite Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Breaking Glass 3:28
Art Decade 3:10
Ziggy Stardust 3:32

live 7-inch EP released in UK
RCA BOW 1 and Europe PB 9337
Chart peak UK 59

Saturday November 18

Melbourne Cricket Ground

The MCG was the largest venue (capacity 40,000) Bowie had played to date.

The tickets promised 'We play rain or shine'. Melbourne obliged with a downpour that never let up throughout the entire concert.

Phil Calvert (second from left) of Boys Next Door enjoys the concert

Sean Mayes (1999): The bedraggled fans had a punk look with their ruined hair and streaky make-up. But the mood was fantastic – when you're soaked you don't give a damn. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

Adrian Belew (2000): That was an incredible show. There was a huge expectation and everyone's waiting for you to come out and finally you do come out and there's this concern whether everyone will be electrocuted! [004][Buckley, David. Strange Fascination (Virgin, 2005)]

Debra Robertson, The Sun: It was a truly miserable night in Melbourne. More than 25,000 fans gathered to stick by their hero through his three-hour show. It was well worth the drenching. At least that was the general feeling of fans who stayed. The crowds even had the patience to wait for Bowie while he took intermission – so he could show off the gear from his unique wardrobe. In a considerate gesture, he told them he wouldn't be long. During the second half of the show, the crowd went wild. Bowie almost caused a riot at the end when he threw his microphone into the crowd. [251][Robertson, Debra. Bewitching Bowie (The Sun, 21 November 1978)]

The Age: Festival Hall might be a musty, acoustically-dead mausoleum, stained in the sweat of wrestlers and lined with graffiti. But it is so very dry. [Bowie, the splash hit (The Age, 20 November 1978)]

Sunday November 19

Melbourne – Brisbane

Bowie arrives in Brisbane flanked by Stuart George and Tony Mascia
Photograph by Ray Cash

The Courier Mail: If it had not been for the security entourage surrounding the 31-year-old singer and actor, no one would have realised he had arrived. He and the guards walked quickly across the tarmac to a fleet of waiting limousines. He smiled pleasantly and said hello to photographers. Inside the Ansett terminal an agitated American gave orders to Brisbane tour promoter Harvey Lister. He seemed to feel security was not tight enough.

Bowie and the band had a couple of spare days in Brisbane before the next concert. Fans were already camping outside the venue gates – some of them since Friday – with canvas awnings spread above their sleeping bags. [094][Courier Mail, 20 November 1978. Four Guards – But No Fans]

The front of the queue to get into the concert at Lang Park, Brisbane

Monday November 20

To celebrate Tony Mascia's first wedding anniversary, the entourage headed off to a couple of Brisbane clubs, including Top of the State. Peter Maslen, later a member of the band Boom Crash Opera, was drummer in Stax, the club's house band.

Peter Maslen (2010): Being an early weeknight, there weren't many people out, so Bowie et al had a hassle free venue in which to drink and party. The champagne was flowing that night. Stax played a variety of music, but when we saw who had arrived, we played our most funky tracks.

In a break, Dennis Davis who had heard us playing BT Express and Stevie Wonder songs asked me if he could play my kit. People kept getting up and jamming on stage and Dennis Davis loved playing drums to BT Express and T-Connection songs.

The house band from the nightclub at Lennons Plaza arrived and joined in. I was back on the drums (Dennis wanted to sing by this stage) with Barry Sullivan on bass, most of the Bowie band playing guitars and keyboards to some funky tune and as I looked up out of my drunken haze, I see David Bowie on the centre mic singing something that resembled Fame. I remember saying in my head ... “I'm onstage, playing with David Bowie!!” [381][bowiedownunder.com – 1978 Low/Heroes Tour (AUS/NZ)]

Tuesday November 21

Lang Park, Brisbane

Rory Gibson, Brisbane Telegraph: Station To Station was stunning. Roger Powell unleashed an awesome sound from his synthesisers, giving the impression of a giant train speeding between the speaker banks. The sound system was huge and the music that poured out of it was crystal clear. [130][Gibson, Rory. (Brisbane Telegraph, 22 November 1978)]

So huge was the sound system, there were many noise complaints.

Brisbane Telegraph: It was reported that the noise was loud enough to be heard 6km away. Residents of the suburbs of Paddington, Bardon and Milton described it as “intolerable”. [069][Brisbane Telegraph, 22 November 1978]

Wednesday November 22

Bowie and the band returned to Sydney and the Sebel Townhouse. On the night of their arrival, Dennis Davis and Roger Powell jammed with Bette Midler's band at the Manzil Room.

Thursday November 23

Bowie visited Peter Frampton at his hotel. “He's very friendly,” Bowie later reported. “Just as sweet as he used to be in school.” Bowie had gone to the same school as Frampton, whose father was Bowie's art teacher.

In the evening Bowie, and Mayes went to see Bette Midler's show at the State Theatre, standing at the back* as all seats were sold out.

*Author note: I was there in standing room, though completely oblivious to them.

Friday November 24

RAS Showground, Sydney

Demand was high with all 40,000 tickets quickly sold. The first show was subdued, but went well, according to Sean Mayes.

The Australian office of RCA presented Bowie with a plaque for Outstanding Sales, which he later donated to a charity.

Saturday November 25

RAS Showground, Sydney

The second Sydney show was said to be the best of the whole tour.

Les Murray, The Sun: His stunningly diverse material … if anything outmatched the quality we recalled on record – in many cases his superb seven-piece band dabbling inventively with the new arrangements. Re-emerging in angelic white after his own intermission, from the rear of the arena, he looked like some divine prophet's post-resurrection apparition in front of his beguiled multitude. [224][Murray, Les. The Divine Mister B (The Sun, 27 November 1978)]

Sunday November 26

On their last day in Australia, Bowie and the band drove north to Gosford where Dennis Garcia had a bungalow near a small lake. They returned in the evening to celebrate the end of the Australian tour with The Angels at the Sebel Townhouse.

John Brewster, The Angels (2012): I'm sure we were probably imbibing things more than we should have – I remember the beginning of it, I don't remember the end too well!

Monday November 27

Bowie remained in Sydney while the tour party took an early flight to Christchurch, New Zealand.

Tuesday November 28

Willesee at Seven television interview
Seven Studios, Epping

Wednesday November 29

Queen Elizabeth II Park, Christchurch

The Angels were unavailable for the New Zealand dates, so New Zealand-born guitarist Kevin Borich was given the spot. The QEII Park was an open-air athletic stadium built for the 10th Commonwealth Games in 1974.

 

December 1978

Friday December 1

Auckland

Heavy security had been laid on at the airport, but there were no crowds – just five photographers awaited his arrival. The tour party checked in at The Mon Desir, a single storey hotel backing on to a beach at Takapuna.

Saturday December 2

Western Springs, Auckland

41,000 turned out to see the concert at Western Springs, an open-air natural amphitheatre stadium. Bowie set a national attendance record, beating previous record holders The Rolling Stones and Neil Diamond. With fans milling everywhere, the limos had to clear a path through the cars and crowds to reach the backstage area.

After the interval, the band came on holding cameras. Bowie wanted them all to take pictures of the audience as gesture of tribute.

Sunday December 3 – Monday December 4

Auckland – Sydney – Tokyo

At 7.30pm the party began the four-hour flight from Auckland back to Sydney, where they boarded a small JAL jet bound for Tokyo.

They landed at 6am at New Tokyo International Airport at Narita and were greeted by the tour promoter Seijiro Udo.

After exchanging a few words with the television crews filming their arrival, the party headed to the limos, which ground through the morning traffic. Three hours later they settled in at the Tokyo Prince Hotel in Shiba-koen, Minato-ku.

Antony Clavet, the make-up artist on Just A Gigolo worked on this last leg of the tour as he was living in Kyoto at the time.

Tuesday December 5

Tokyo – Osaka by bullet train

Wednesday December 6

Koseinenkin Kaikan, Osaka
Broadcast on Japanese radio

The first show in Japan was small – a 1500-seater – and the audience subdued. Dennis Davis tried to liven up the concert by occasionally bashing two Chinese gongs until they were taken away from him.

Star Sen Ichi Ya television interview

Thursday December 7

Koseinenkin Kaikan, Osaka

The concert was livelier than the previous night. Dennis Davis painted his face like a Native American and Bowie won a huge cheer when he addressed the crowd in Japanese.

Saturday December 9

Banpaku Kaikan, Osaka

Sunday December 10

Osaka – Tokyo

Monday December 11

Budokan Arena, Tokyo

Tuesday December 12

NHK Hall, Tokyo

The band was downbeat at the end of the tour, but after a few songs the energy came back with The Jean Genie.

Sean Mayes (1999): From that moment, the show took off and became a stormer, one of the best of the whole tour, all the higher for starting low. [022][Mayes, Sean. Life On Tour With David Bowie: We Can Be Heroes (Independent Music Press, 1999)]

NHK filmed the concert and edited it to one hour for broadcast on The Young Music Show

End of Tour party at Bee Club, Roppongi

The theme for the party was Just A Gigolo, due for release soon. The guests, mostly Europeans and Americans living in Tokyo, were invited to dress Twenties style. Sean Mayes played a short cabaret piece with a violinist and a singer performing the theme tune.

The tour over, Bowie and stayed on in Kyoto, socialising with Antony Clavet through December. Around this time Bowie invited him to do make up for the Lodger sleeve.

Monday December 25

Christmas in Kyoto with Zowie and Coco.

1970  •  1971  •  1972  •  1973  •  1974  •  1975  •  1976  •  1977  •  1978  •  1979  •  1980

 

THE WEBSITE  •  THE BOOK


Bowie Golden Years v1.0 created and designed by Roger Griffin 2000
Bowie Golden Years v2.0 2017-2020

Photographs and texts have been credited wherever possible

this page updated November 19, 2020